Meet One of Spain’s Hobby Olive Growers

Representing less than one percent of all Spanish olive groves, non-commercial growers face a unique set of joys and challenges associated with oil production.
Barrington Dubois
Jul. 9, 2021
Jasmina Nevada

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Barrington Dubois is an enter­tainer liv­ing on the Costa Calida, in the south­east­ern Spanish autonomous com­mu­nity of Murcia.

Along with his work as a musi­cian and wed­ding singer, Dubois is also one of Spain’s many non-com­mer­cial olive grow­ers.

The olives take about a week to pick, and it’s pretty hard work, but we enjoy the exer­cise.- Barrington Dubois, hobby olive oil pro­ducer

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, non-com­mer­cial grow­ers account for 0.7 per­cent of all Spanish olive groves – about 19,183 hectares over­all. Slightly less than three per­cent – 785 hectares – of all olive groves in Murcia are non-com­mer­cial.

See Also: Planas: Traditional Olive Growers Will Be Protected in New Common Agricultural Policy

Dubois and his wife, Julie, pur­chased 6,000 square meters of land in 2002, which started with only a few almond trees and has evolved. Since then, the cou­ple planted apple, lemon, olive, peach, pear and pome­gran­ate trees organ­i­cally.

Their small olive grove mea­sures roughly 30 meters by 30 meters and con­sists of around eight or nine trees that yield about 45 liters of oil each year.

It’s more of a hobby, but also we like to grow things to be self-suf­fi­cient,” Dubois told Olive Oil Times.

He added that while he knew vir­tu­ally noth­ing about olive grow­ing ini­tially, he has come to learn quite a bit over the years.

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Photo: Barrington Dubois

Since he began grow­ing the fruit, Dubois has learned that olives turn from green to black when they ripen. He also learned how to cure them for con­sump­tion as table olives and how to prune the trees.

Each autumn, the cou­ple under­goes the labo­ri­ous task of pick­ing the olives by hand.

The olives take about a week to pick, and it’s pretty hard work, but we enjoy the exer­cise,” Dubois said.

Once the cou­ple has picked all of the olives, they take them to the local mill and over­see the fol­low­ing stages of trans­form­ing the olives and extract­ing the oil. The result is dark green olive oil with a slightly nutty fla­vor.

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Photo: Barrington Dubois

The local mill takes respon­si­bil­ity for bot­tling and label­ing the oil too. Once bot­tled, the cou­ple sells their oil to fam­ily and friends.

They also decant some oil to smaller bot­tles, occa­sion­ally infus­ing it with pep­pers or rose­mary. Any left­over olives and not taken to the mill are salted and con­sumed by the cou­ple at home.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pan­demic, we have been mak­ing our olive leaf extract, which has anti-fun­gal and anti-bac­te­r­ial prop­er­ties and sup­ports the immune sys­tem,” Dubois said. Just recently, we tried out hand at soap-mak­ing using left­over olive oil, argan oil and aloe vera, which we also grow in abun­dance.”

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Photo: Barrington Dubois

Dubois said that the focus of his small farm is to uti­lize the land as much as pos­si­ble by grow­ing fruit and veg­eta­bles and rais­ing chick­ens.

The cou­ple has recently planted grapevines and is look­ing into bee­keep­ing meth­ods to pro­duce honey.

We would love to expand as we have space, but it is extremely hard work har­vest­ing the trees we already have by hand,” Dubois said. And I am not sure how we would stand with sell­ing oil com­mer­cially. I think it would be too com­pli­cated.”





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